Early after conception and until the moment that the water breaks at the time of delivery of their infant, the fetus is bathed in amniotic fluid (AF). AF functions as both a supportive cushion to the fetus and provides a protective environment. AF is a rich source of nutrients, cytokines, growth factors and mesenchymal stem cells that help promote fetal development. These components of AF have been found to have the biologic properties to fight infection and assist in the repair of damaged tissues outside of the womb, and are useful for reparative and regenerative treatment in patients.
Amniotic fluid donated by healthy donors at the time of c section has shown much promise in the field of regenerative medicine. In the context of orthopedic surgery, it has shown beneficial effects on the arthritic and inflamed joint.
It’s safety is ensured by all donors being screened medically and serologically for infection including both hepatitis and HIV. It is processed and procured in accordance to the standards established by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Once processed for clinical use it has been shown to have little if any stem cells present, yet its composition has been shown to have favorable characteristics in decreasing joint inflammation and enhancing the internal environment of the inflamed arthritic joint.
Amniotic fluid contains important cytokines, growth factors, hyaluronic acid, and exosomes that work to promote joint homeostasis and joint lubrication. Exosomes are small vesicles that arise from stem cells and provide a means for tissue repair and joint homeostasis. They provide beneficial signals inherent to the native stem cells, without their direct presence in the regenerative process. AF provides a concentrated mixture of these regenerative components.
How is it performed?
This treatment is a typical joint injection. As it is from an outside source there is no harvest necessary. Injection is performed in office. No crutches or ambulatory aide is needed. It is suggested that anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil be withheld one week beforehand and three weeks afterward to ensure the best result. This treatment can be administered to those on-blood thinners.
What are the risks?
While the injection can cause done slight discomfort, most patients tolerate the procedure well and with minimal pain. The samples are screened for infection as per the standards of the American association of tissue banking (AATB)and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), yet the sample is from another individual and the risk of infection is minimal. There have been no documented cases of disease transmission with this form of treatment.
- Pierce, J., Jacobson, P., Benedetti, E. et al. Collection and characterization of amniotic fluid from scheduled C-section deliveries. Cell Tissue Bank 17, 413–425 (2016).